In reading short stories by the great Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges, I've noticed a repeated theme: many of these stories are written in the style of a review or summary of a much larger and more intricate work, which is wholly imaginary. This seems to be Borges's way of sharing all the awesomely bonkers ideas he comes out with for books, without actually having to go to the effort of writing these massive books himself.
- The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim: a review of a 21-chapter book of the same name by the fictional Bombay attorney Mir Bahadur Ali.
- Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote: a brief description of the complete works of the fictional novelist Pierre Menard, followed by a more detailed study of his attempt to rewrite Don Quixote.
- A Survey of the Works of Herbert Quain: a brief description of the complete works of the fictional Irish author Herbert Quain.
- The Garden of Forking Paths: a spy story surrounds the essential philosophical issue of the eponymous work by the fictional philosopher Ts'ui Pen.
Was Borges the inventor of this curious style of storytelling? Or were there other, earlier authors who established the literary technique of creating a story idea but instead of telling it in full, only summarising it and leaving the reader tantalised?